Kitchari: Adapted from Several Pakistani/Indian Recipes

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Kitchari means mixture, usually of two grains. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


This is a delicious vegetarian dish that stands alone or with a salad. However, you could serve it as an accompaniment with fish or poultry. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Jules and I love Kitchari. It can be varied in a multitude of ways. Here, above, is our latest meal that we shared with our son, Alex who, like us, gobbled it up. The Kitchari is served over basmati boiled in chicken broth (instead of water), with a garnish of sweet mango, yogurt and mango chutney. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



1 cup Basmati rice or short-grained brown rice, rinsed twice

3 Tablespoons ghee or butter or extra virgin olive oil

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled then grated

4 cups stock or broth (veggie or chicken broth), extra for cooking rice and lentils

1 Tablespoon black mustard seeds, toasted

1 Tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted

1 jalapeno, seeded, chopped well

2 large carrots, roughly chopped

1 sweet potato, cubed

1 pinch kosher salt or 3 anchovy fillets mashed with 3 garlic cloves

1.5 cups yellow mung (yellow lentils) beans

1 Tablespoons turmeric

1 Tablespoon coriander powder

12 more fresh garlic cloves sliced

10 fresh garlic cloves, leave them whole

1 bunch kale, ribs removed, sliced into ribbons

1 large onion, diced

1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped, plus a few sprigs for garnish

Zest of 2 fresh lemons

2 fresh lemons, juiced

Cashews, toast them in oven or in skillet on stove (optional)

Plain full-fat yogurt (optional)

Mango chutney


If your local store doesn’t carry some of these spices, you can probably get all of them on Amazon. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.



1. Follow the directions on the package of mung beans and cook now. With some, you will soak the moong beans (yellow lentils) in water for 2 hours before cooking. Cook in broth, even though the directions won’t say to do this.

2. Cook the rice in a rice cooker or in a saucepan on the stove (cook in broth: veggie or chicken broth).

3. Rinse the kale and cilantro twice and drain twice, then pat dry with paper toweling.

4. Do all your peeling, grating, toasting, mashing, chopping slicing, etc.


Grinding up the anchovies and garlic cloves in my mortar and pestle. This piece of equipment is not the latest fad in cooking; or mainly for gourmet chefs. In fact, it’s one of the oldest (if not THE oldest) item used in kitchens. When I use it, I’m always impressed that here in my own kitchen 21st century kitchen, we’re using the exact technology that dates back to approximately 35,000 BCE. You’ve got to have this. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Chopping and/or slicing veggies all at the same time. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


5. Add two Tablespoons of butter or ghee or extra virgin olive oil, to a large pot or a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the mustard and cumin seeds. Stir and let it sizzle for one minute, then add the jalapeno and the sliced garlic. Since I’ve made this recipe more than once, I’ve used butter, olive oil and ghee. We prefer olive oil because it’s healthier and doesn’t affect the flavor one bit.


Toasting the mustard and cumin seeds. Consider using a cover while you toast the seeds. When the mustard seeds start to pop, they can jump out of the pan. You don’t want to get hit in the face or eye. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Seeds are done, so slowly adding more, stirring everything together. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


6. Add the carrots, sweet potato and anchovy/garlic, to the pot, and saut? for three minutes.


Adding the carrots and sweet potatoes. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


7. Add the yellow mung beans, turmeric and coriander. Stir and cook for approximately one minute.


Adding the mung (yellow lentils) beans and spices. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


8. To the pot, add four cups of broth. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cover. Add the whole garlic cloves and stir in. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes and carrots are cooked through and the mung beans have fallen apart.


Broth has been added, plus garlic. Now, will cover and cook for 20 minutes. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


9. Toss the kale in the pot and simmer for 10 more minutes with the lid on.


Adding the kale. Notice how much thicker the rest of the stew has become in the 20 minutes of cooking. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


10. While the kale is cooking, grab a small saut? pan and heat the remaining Tablespoon of olive oil, or butter or ghee. Add the onions and saut? until deep, golden brown. Throw in the cilantro and stir.

11. Transfer the onions and cilantro (plus any juices) from the pan to the pot and stir to combine.

12. Let the stew simmer for five minutes, then add the lemon juice and stir to combine. If you’re using the cashews, add them now and stir into the Kitchari. Remove the pot from heat and let stand for a few minutes.


Simmering. Just about ready to serve. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


When ready to serve, add 1 or 2 Tablespoons of cooked brown or white rice to a soup bowl or plate, and add 2 or 3 Tablespoons of kitchari on top of the rice. Next to the kitchari, add some plain yogurt and garnish with a few sprigs of fresh cilantro.


Have Mango chutney on the table and extra yogurt


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Here is the first delicious Kitchari meal: Kitchari over basmati plus some veggies roasted on a baking sheet with olive oil drizzled over the veggies. We love Kitchari and plan to have it often. The next morning, I weighed less. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


At another meal, we had Kitchari over saffron rice, roasted veggies and chicken thighs. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


We started this meal with icy Pouilly-Fuisse in chilled glasses, warm pita bread and garlic hummus. Next came the Kitchari with basmati rice, yogurt and mango chutney (we didn’t add cashews). For dessert, (see above) fresh red seedless grapes and vanilla Tofutti (soy) ice cream. We felt happy and healthy and knew that when we got on the bathroom scales the next morning, we’d still be happy. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


This icy white wine in pre-chilled glasses, was a good pairing for the Kitchari.  ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


If you’re not familiar with Pakistani or Indian food, you’re in for a real flavor treat in which you can adjust the spiciness to suit your taste. My first experience was when I was living in London, having dinner at a restaurant with friends, I could not believe how hot my mouth got. I ended up drinking a whole pitcher of ice water, before I felt like myself again. You do not need to go through that, if you’re doing the cooking. Most restaurants now ask if you want your order hot, medium spicy, mild or very mild. In your own kitchen, you customize all recipes.


In my early twenties, when I was doing a lot of yoga and living in Manhattan, I was also well acquainted with Swami Satchidananda (we called him Swamiji), where I attended his many lectures and often spent time in his kitchen, with others like Peter Max, where he taught me how to make curried cauliflower with potato. We became such good friends, that we invited him to come for a long weekend to our summer place in the Adirondacks, on the shores of a large lake. At the time I was driving a diesel Mercedes with a stick shift. He loved to drive it with his left leg in the lotus position and the other leg in driving position. When we went sailing, he would stand on the bow, gripping the mast, like a living figurehead, his saffron robes whipping in the wind. He was really something to behold; a very special person.


Swami Satchidananda (aka Swamiji


Have a great week everyone!

Bon Appetit!


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